Fossil Glossary

ABYSSAL PLAIN

An abyssal plain is an underwater plain on the deep ocean floor, usually found at depths between 3000 and 6000 meters. Lying generally between the foot of a continental rise and a mid-ocean ridge, abyssal plains cover more than 50% of the Earth's surface.[1][2] They are among the flattest, smoothest and least explored regions on Earth.[3] Abyssal plains are key geologic elements of oceanic basins (the other elements being an elevated mid-ocean ridge and flanking abyssal hills). In addition to these elements, active oceanic basins (those that are associated with a moving plate tectonic boundary) also typically include an oceanic trench and a subduction zone.

Source: Wikipedia

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ACANTHODII

Acanthodii (sometimes called spiny sharks) is a class of extinct fishes, sharing features with both bony fish and cartilaginous fish. In form they resembled sharks, but their epidermis was covered with tiny rhomboid platelets like the scales of holosteans (gars, bowfins). They may have been an independent phylogenetic branch of fishes, which had evolved from little-specialized forms close to Recent Chondrichthyes.

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AMMONITE

Ammonites are an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class Cephalopoda. These molluscs are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e. octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) than they are to shelled nautiloids such as the living Nautilus species.

Source: Wikipedia

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CALCITE

A common compound (CaCO3) in rock formation and the main component of limestone. Calcite can be many colors and effervesces (bubbles) in hydrochloric acid

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CARBONATE ROCK

A rock consisting primarily of a carbonate mineral such as calcite or dolomite, the chief minerals in limestone and dolostone, respectively.

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COPROLITE

The fossilized waste (dung; feces) matter of animals.

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CRINOID

The earliest known crown-group crinoids date to the Ordovician. There are two competing hypotheses pertaining to the origin of the group: the traditional viewpoint holds that crinoids evolved from within the blastozoans (the eocrinoids and their derived descendants the cystoids), whereas the most popular alternative suggests that the crinoids split early from among the edrioasteroids.The debate is difficult to settle, in part because all three candidate ancestors share many characteristics, including radial symmetry, calcareous plates, and stalked or direct attachment to the substrate.

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DEVONIAN

The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic Era spanning from 416 to 359.2 million years ago. It is named after Devon, England, where rocks from this period were first studied.

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FOSSIL

Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up") are the preserved remains or traces of animals (also known as zoolites), plants, and other organisms from the remote past. The totality of fossils, both discovered and undiscovered, and their placement in fossiliferous (fossil-containing) rock formations and sedimentary layers (strata) is known as the fossil record. The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed, and the evolutionary relationships between taxa (phylogeny) are some of the most important functions of the science of paleontology. Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years ago.

Source: Wikipedia

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MATRIX

The solid matter in which a fossil or crystal is embedded. Also, a binding substance (e.g., cement in concrete).

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MEGALODON

An extinct species of shark that lived roughly about 25 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era

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MOSASAUR

Mosasaurs (from Latin Mosa meaning the 'Meuse river', and Greek sauros meaning 'lizard') are large extinct marine lizards. The first fossil remains were discovered in a limestone quarry at Maastricht on the Meuse in 1764. Mosasaurs are now considered to be the closest relatives of snakes, due to cladistic analyses that have taken into account similarities in jaw and skull anatomies.[1] Mosasaurs were varanoids closely related to terrestrial monitor lizards. They probably evolved from semi-aquatic squamates[2] known as aigialosaurs, which were more similar in appearance to modern-day monitor lizards, in the Early Cretaceous. During the last 20 million years of the Cretaceous Period (Turonian-Maastrichtian), with the extinction of the ichthyosaurs and pliosaurs, mosasaurs became the dominant marine predators.

Source: Wikipedia

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PALEOBIOLOGY

The biological study of fossils.

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PALEONTOLOGIST

A scientist who studies fossils to better understand life in prehistoric times.

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PANGAEA

A supercontinent that existed from about 300 to 200 million years ago, and included most of the continental crust of the Earth.

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TAXONOMY

The theory and practice of biological classification.

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TRILOBITE

Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period (526 million years ago), and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before beginning a drawn-out decline to extinction when, during the Devonian, all trilobite orders, with the sole exception of Proetida, died out. Trilobites finally disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago.

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